Schools begin to offer free* COVID testing for students and families as another safety measure along with wearing masks. *The cost of testing is covered by health insurance. (Isabel Kachappilly)
Schools begin to offer free* COVID testing for students and families as another safety measure along with wearing masks. *The cost of testing is covered by health insurance.

Isabel Kachappilly

D205 schools offers free onsite COVID testing

December 8, 2021

Elmhurst District 205 started offering onsite weekly RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) COVID-19 testing for students and staff to various schools in the community. All testing programs are voluntary and require written consent from the student’s parent/guardian. 

On Nov. 1,  the voluntary weekly testing began at Churchville Middle School, Emerson Elementary, Hawthorne Elementary, Jackson Elementary, Jefferson Elementary, and Madison Elementary. In the following week, testing was available to Sandburg Middle School, Edison Elementary and Conrad Fischer Elementary. Now, testing is available at Field Elementary, Bryan Middle School and York High School. The District explained reasons why these testing programs may benefit our students. 

“This is another layered mitigation that our school district is providing to keep our students and families safe,” DOCUMENT. “By identifying students who are not experiencing any symptoms, we will continue to support low transmission rates within our school communities.”

The District partnered with North Shore Clinical, a local testing group, to offer onsite testing. RT-PCR tests remain the gold standard testing methods for detecting COVID-19 due to their accurate results. Students will either have a cheek swab or a shallow nasal swab. The whole process takes a few minutes. Local parents commented on the implementation of these testing sites. 

“I’m glad the schools are offering more COVID resources,” Alfredo Campos, a D205 parent, said. “It’s good that the District is making an effort to make schools safer for my child.” 

The testing requires no direct cost from the student’s family. All costs are covered by insurance or if you are uninsured, the costs will be covered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Students expressed their thoughts on the cost and accessibility of the tests. 

“I think York offering free COVID testing is a great idea for those who can’t find the time or transportation to get tested elsewhere,” Tala Eisouh, senior, said. “I also think it makes York a bit safer for students because this ensures proper results that York will receive directly.”

While many consider the testing programs as an added layer of safety for schools, some reflect on how students dismiss the current safety guidelines such as wearing masks properly. 

“I do think [the District] is trying to keep us safe by having people put up their masks but in classrooms, there are still people that have their masks below their noses and a lot of teachers don’t really say anything or people don’t get called out,” Vanessa Bardoshi, senior, said. “I think we should make it mandatory that if you see a student not wearing their mask above their nose, they automatically get a slip for something because this is not to be taken lightly if you have your mask below your nose. People’s lives are at risk.” 

As the school year progresses, York administration continues the significance of five days of in person learning. Dr.Shahe Bagdesarian, principal, signified how the addition of on site testing programs reduces certain concerns students or families may have.  

“I think anytime we take a type of cautionary measure, whether it’s masks or testing, it brings a level of anxiety down,” Bagdesarian said. “I think the more we do the front end of it, it will eventually help us get to the end game of relaxing a bit more. But right now, any type of measure we can take to get in front of any type of spreading of the virus is always a good thing and it helps bring that level of anxiety down.” 

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